Can the employer and the employee freely negotiate the wage?

As a general rule, the employer and the employee are free to determine the remuneration to be paid for the work performed.

However, there are some limitations as certain factors must be taken into account.

Every employer must ensure that men and women receive equal pay for the same work or for work of equal value.

What is the legal minimum wage?

While the parties are free to negotiate a wage, the Labour Code imposes a downward limit on wages. No wage can be lower than the social minimum wage (SSM).

There are two types of SSM:

  • the SSM for unskilled workers;
  • the SSM for skilled workers.

If an employee has no professional qualifications, the minimum wage paid by the employer is currently € 2 570,93 gross per month (index 944,43 effective from 1st of September 2023). 

Unskilled adult (18 years and older)
(100% of the SSM)
€2 570,93 
Adolescent 17 years old
(80% of the SSM)
€2 056,74 
Adolescent 15-16 years old
(75% of the SSM)
€1 928,20 

Skilled Adult
(120% of the SSM)

€3 085,11 

(last updated on 07.09.2023)

In which cases can the employee claim a skilled social minimum wage?

Employees who have the following minimum qualifications can claim the SSM for skilled workers:

  • a certificate of technical and vocational aptitude (CATP) or the diploma of vocational aptitude (DAP) following secondary technical education;
  • a certificate of manual competency (CCM) or a certificate of professional competency (CCP) and two years’ experience in the trade;
  • a certificate of technical and vocational initiation (CITP) and five years of experience in the trade.

The minimum remuneration that a skilled employee must obtain is the minimum gross monthly social wage for skilled workers (see Social parameters).

This amount must also be paid to employees with at least ten years work experience in the relevant profession, even if they do not hold official certificates. (Judgement of the Court of Appeal dated 27 June 2013, N°26885 of the Roll, InfosJuridiques N°7/2013-3)

In professions where training is not established by an official certificate, employees who have acquired practical training from the exercise of trades for at least 6 years requiring progressively increasing technical ability may be considered skilled “employees”.

The amounts indicated above are gross amounts and correspond to full-time work (40 hours per week).

Naturally, beyond these legal minimums, the employer and the employee can freely determine levels of remuneration.

(last updated on 04.01.2021)

On what basis is the social minimum wage calculated?

The contract can have different scenarios depending on whether an employee is paid by the month or by the hour.

  • monthly salary

In this case employees receive the same salary every month, regardless of the number of working days in the month, regardless of whether they have taken holidays and regardless of whether there are public holidays; everything is included.

  • hourly wage

Hours worked must be paid, but hours of leave taken during the month and the hours corresponding to public holidays are add as well.

  • incentive wage plans

The output can be a number of pieces produced, a number of sq. meters processed, commissions or a percentage of sales, etc. Usually, this type of salary is complemented by a standard salary on a monthly or hourly basis.